I love to thrift store shop. I know this is not a unique thing (as demonstrated by Macklamore’s lyrics). I have been doing it since I was in high school. I am not claiming any expertise beyond my own experience, but I have found a few helpful tips on how to score amazing items from the thrift store and save time.
1. Know shops’ discount schedules. Almost every thrift shop has a discounted day. Yes, everyday you can find items at discounts, but there are special days where you can get 25%-50% off everything. The best place to look for these deals is on the store’s own marketing material. Posters in the store or at the register are the best bet, but if you don’t see anything, please ask the clerk. Make sure to arrive early on those days. There is a definite frenzy at the door when everything is 50% off the already discounted price.
2. Have a list of what you are looking for. I am ashamed to admit that there are a number of items that I have bought and then donated back to the store a month or two later because I just didn’t need the item. If you are looking for books, write down some authors, genres or titles that you want. If you are looking for housewares, come prepared with certain styles and color schemes in mind. Clothes can often be the hardest to narrow down, but it is important. Shop for clothes with brands and styles that suit your body well. This will undoubtedly save you time that would be otherwise spent in a dressing room or in front of a mirror.
3. Become familiar with each store’s highlights. After I have shopped a new thrift store a few times, I make a mental note on the “great finds from that store. If you think about it, you will notice a trend of what you are finding at specific stores. I know at store A, I need to hit the shoes and jackets specifically (I will hit the other sections if time allows). At store B, I am all about the furniture and home decor. Thrift stores are often stocked by the demographic that lives nearby. If you have had luck with shoes 3 or 4 times at one store, chances are that luck will continue.
4. Don’t be afraid to dig. The beauty (and fault) or every thrift store is you have no idea what you will find. This could mean an amazing vintage Burberry scarf or a food smeared dress. You just never know. But in order to find those amazing pieces, you have to be the one to search for it. This means digging through shelves and piles. Gloves are acceptable. The work will pay off and the joy will be overwhelming.
5. Don’t be in a rush. Yes, there is something to be said about frantically scouring a store before anyone else has a chance to get a first glance, but don’t ever rush when it comes to purchasing items. Thrift stores are almost always “as-is” and no refunds. You want to be sure of your items when purchasing, no matter how cheap they are. I generally make a pass through the sections I want to go to and then purge my items right before checking out. This allows me to place a value on the pieces and decide how much I want to spend.
6. Only carry in the necessities. This may not seem like a huge deal, but it will definitely save time and your mood. I try to only carry my wallet (or a payment method) and my phone. <—big deal for searching brands/styles that you aren’t familiar with. I use a cross body bag or something that is arms free. That way my hands can work frivolously with the whole dig part of things.
7. Shop often. The more you go to the stores the less you will miss. Items turnover quickly in shops and you want to be there when the good stuff comes out. Try to get a little schedule going of when and what shops to go to when (obviously for the most serious of thrifters)
Find great things. Enjoy